In brainstorming what I should do in Boston, my friend Julie Slade suggested I visit the MAC store in Boston for a private consultation on makeup. Not having any makeup of any quality myself, and not having ever had an expert match foundation to my skin, I thought this was a smashing idea. MAC logo

When I arrived in Boston on Wednesday evening, I studied the MAC website and discovered there was a counter at a Macy’s just a mile away at the North Shore Mall. However, I remembered Julie’s recommendation and chose to take a cab into Boston the next day so I could visit the dedicated MAC store. The website said you need an appointment for this private consultation, and I was kicking myself for not doing this research and making this decision earlier. What if tomorrow came and I called and there were no slots? I vowed to call as soon as they opened the next morning.

Thursday, I got up, called the MAC store at 9:00 and learned they weren’t open until 10. OK, thought I. I’d like to be back to hear Mara Keisling in the mid afternoon, so I need a plan. I couldn’t tell whether the consultation was limited to consulting or if it involved a full make-over, so I hedged my bets. I got dressed, black jeans and boots and a Coldwater Creek red sweater and matching scarf, and figured, ok, if I get a makeover, I’ll need a wig; if not, then I’ll just continue looking like this, so I took my smaller wig and waited for 10.

At the right time, I called and asked for a personal consultation, to which Jason said there was room in the afternoon. “What about high noon,” I asked. “That’ll do, too,” he said.

So I took my bag (with wig inside), bundled up for what I expected to be a chilly day, and hit the road. Cab got me there in plenty of time, so I walked around, got coffee, visited the Borders bookstore and bought Jenny Boylan’s new book I’m Looking Through You in case we ran into each other at the conference and I could ask her to sign my book. Walked quickly to MAC and realized that Mary’s down coat was industrial strength, and I was boiling. Zipper down, shirt open, hat off — still steam was rising off of me like the New York City subway vents.

Jason, a smallish gay man, met me at the door: “Joyce, come right back here to the little private studio.” He kindly loaned me some tissues with which to wipe up all the sweat from getting overheated as we talked about what I wanted. Nothing glam, I told him — this is professional, not drag. He said they do lots of transsexuals and we’d go slow and talk about color and technique this morning and he wouldn’t push anything I didn’t want.

MAC

We tried a lot of different foundation, but came up with a great color match that’s suitable for both heavier and lighter coverage, and that ought to serve me well as I get rid of the rest of my beard hairs. Jason employed nothing but brushes — no pads or cotton balls for him, and he was quite boastful about the fact that MAC employs artists. So I felt a bit like a canvass in a studio for a little while. And technique was discussed at every turn, and I took lots of mental notes. For the eyes, Jason put a bit of eyeliner all the way around the eye, rather than just under and outside, and we talked about the effect of the really thin line on the inside. Having never lined all the way around, I found the look nothing like I had imagined. And “lined” is not what MAC does — it’s more like smudge right down into the roots of the lash hair, which has a really nice look (certainly a lot more interesting than a big thick line of liquid riding a millimeter above the lash line!)

Jason and I talked about colors quite a bit and went with muted earth tones and autumn/spring colors instead of anything bright. And I guess a good sign was that because of this approach, I never felt I was getting “made up.”

I told Jason of Mary Jo’s prohibition against blue eyeshadow, and he said that my blue eyes would really do well with a sophisticated blue, and that while Mary Jo is right to be horrified by trailer-trash bright blue eyeshadow, there are some fabulous shades that would look great. While I was persuaded, I was not swayed, and we stuck with browns and that sort of thing.

My question about consultation vs. full makeover was answered very quickly; once we had decided on a foundation or a color, Jason’s artistry swung into full-gear and every nook and cranny got the artist’s touch.

Picked the foundation and a matching powder, eyeliner and mascara, one very neat eyebrow pencil that’s a cross between pencil and pen, one blush, two lipsticks and one lip-liner (nice and subtle, hardly noticeable), a little compact of 4 eyeshadows (one dark, one light, and two mediums), along with a couple of brushes.

Jason sighed and said, “I wish you had your hair and didn’t have to wear this big Russian furry hat,” to which I replied that I had indeed planned for this, and produced the small wig, which Jason styled and left me looking actually quite decent — not my old self, but not so entirely different that it wasn’t me. Which was the goal, no?

I paid, Jason entered all my choices into the big MAC database for future reference (and future earnings, as it seemed awfully easy to blow a lot of cash at their establishment), and I walked out into Boston as the new professional Joyce for the first time. I had anticipated that it would be a big deal, with the themesong from the Mary Tyler Moore show swelling in my head (“You’re gonna make it after all”), and with a glow from the new Joyce evident for all passers-by to see. Actually, it was a lot like being me, just different — walking around, getting a coffee, seeing the city, and eventually grabbing a cab pack to Peabody were simply mundane undertakings.

But when one has been buried for month upon month with angst about gender and identity and the future, the mundane is so nice, so boring, so normal.


If you’re the kind of person who likes details:

Powder Blush (margin)
Studio Fix Powder plus Foundation (nw25)
Full Coverage Foundation (nw25)
Eyebrows (lingering)
Eye pencil (stubborn brown)
Lip Pencil (spice)
Frost Lipstick (sequin)
Lustre Lipstick (viva glam vi)
Eye shadow (twinks-dark, satin taupe-medium, mythology-medium, blanctype-light)
Plush Lash mascara (plushblack)